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Understanding The Dangers Of Perc Solvent: And Why You Should Avoid Dry Cleaners

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Are you someone who frequently uses dry cleaners to have your clothes cleaned and pressed? While it may seem easy and convenient, it’s important to understand the dangers of the solvent commonly used in these establishments.

Perc, also known as perchloroethylene, is a chemical solvent commonly used in dry cleaning. While it may be effective at removing stains and dirt from the clothing, it can also harm the environment and human health. This blog post will explore the dangers of perc solvent and why you should consider avoiding dry cleaners that use this chemical.

Dangers Of Perc Solvent: Why Perchloroethylene (Perc) Is Dangerous—And Should Not Be Used In Dry Cleaning

One of Perc’s main concerns is its environmental impact. It’s considered hazardous waste and is difficult to dispose of. Because Perc is a solvent, it can get into the ground where it shouldn’t, leading to groundwater contamination. This can affect local wildlife and humans relying on groundwater for drinking water. Also, dry cleaners located in residential areas are at risk of exposing their neighboring businesses and residents to toxic perc chemicals that increase the risk of cancer.

The dry cleaning industry’s perc is released into outdoor air through open windows, vents, and air-conditioning systems. Although it remains in the atmosphere for several weeks, perc does not deplete the ozone layer. After a few weeks, perchloroethylene breaks down into other chemicals—some toxic, and some deplete the ozone layer.

In addition to its environmental impact, Perc can threaten human health. Short-term exposure to high levels of Perc can cause dizziness, headaches, and nausea. Long-term exposure has been linked to liver damage, kidney damage, and an increased risk of cancer. Dry cleaning workers frequently exposed to Perc may be at a higher risk of developing these health problems.


But it’s not just dry cleaning workers who are at risk. The chemical can also be harmful to consumers who wear clothing that has been dry-cleaned with Perc. The chemical can remain on clothing after the dry cleaning process, and when it is worn, it can be absorbed through the skin or inhaled. This can lead to various health problems, including eye, respiratory, and skin irritation.

Inhaling high levels of PERC can cause unconsciousness or death. Also, exposure to PERC during pregnancy can cause serious congenital disabilities in the developing fetus. Breastfeeding mothers can pass Perc to their babies through milk.

So why is perc still used in dry cleaning? It’s important to note that not all dry cleaners use Perc as their solvent, but it is still widely used because it is cheap and effective. However, with growing awareness of the dangers of perc, more and more dry cleaners are turning to alternative, safer solvents.

Alternatives to Perc

If you’re concerned about the risks of using perc in your dry cleaning, options are available. Look for dry cleaners that use alternative solvents such as liquid carbon dioxide or wet cleaning methods. These options may be more expensive, but they are much safer for you and the environment.

These methods are just as effective at cleaning as PERC and are much safer and more environmentally friendly. But they often take longer and need different expertise and equipment than the standard dry-cleaning process.


If you are concerned about the dangers of Perc and want to avoid dry cleaners that use this chemical, look for dry cleaners that advertise themselves as “Perc-free” or “green.” These cleaners will use alternative cleaning methods instead of Perc. You can also ask the dry cleaner about their cleaning process and what chemicals they use. Supporting sustainable, environmentally friendly dry-cleaning methods will help the entire industry become more responsible.


The dangers of perc solvent and the potential risks to human health and the environment make it essential to consider alternative options to traditional dry cleaning. While it may effectively remove stains and dirt, safer alternatives are available. By avoiding dry cleaners that use Perc and opting for more environmentally friendly methods, you can help protect yourself and the planet.


Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Perc Solvent?

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies have found that clothes cleaned with perc can spread the toxin throughout a home, concentrating in closets and drawers containing dry-cleaned garments.

Also, dry-cleaning businesses in residential areas have been found to pose a risk of cancer to neighboring residents and businesses, as high as 140 per 1 million people.


What Can I Do To Verify That My Dry Cleaner Uses Only Perc-Free Cleaning Methods?

If a dry cleaner does not use PERC, it will likely be stated on the company’s website. Most dry cleaners in the United States still use PERC, so it’s best to ask about their cleaning practices before you drop off your clothes. You can also use Google to find dry cleaners in your city that advertise themselves as “green” or “PERC-free.”